Just when you thought you might die of the midwinter blues, the greatest reality show of all time—RuPaul’s Drag Race—has returned to cure your Seasonal Affective Disorder. Based on Monday night’s premiere, it looks like season four is gonna be good, with synthetic hair, catfights, and gloriously bitchy insults galore. Before the episode even properly begins, the preview montage gives us, “Go back to Party City where you belong.” Oh Ru, It’s been too long.
First contestant Willam immediately manages to earn herself the title of “Person You Will Hate All Season” after managing to insult “backwoods girls” and people with diabetes within the first 10 minutes. She also claims to be an “actor,” not a “drag queen.” Whatever you say, Willam. Your wig begs to differ. One competitor correctly observes that next arrival Lashauwn Beyond’s hair is “too big for the freaking door,” but luckily this is the one reality show where a massive ’do is a competitive advantage. But don’t get too attached to anybody yet—this is, after all, only the premiere. After the remaining 11 contestants arrive, Ru appears via SheMail to greet the new queens: “You are the hope for future generations of glamazons everywhere.” This show has apparently gotten more popular since last season, because there is now a $100,000 cash prize for the winner (in addition to the ever desirable lifetime supply of NYX Cosmetics). As Madame LaQueer eloquently puts it: “When I heard $100,000, I just wanted to pee on the floor and start doing flip-flops.” Us too, Madame, us too.
For this week’s photo challenge, the queens are forced to pose on a revolving dais while the Pit Crew sprays them with “hazardous waste,” otherwise known as neon paint. I’m pretty sure this challenge was inspired by this 1999 Alexander McQueen show with the spray-paint robots, except way, way less highbrow. Ru asks the girls to give their best “Chernobyl chic,” and some of them succeed, though many of them have some balance issues. Willam makes fun of everyone who falls down, then of course nearly falls off the dais herself. Seriously, have you ever seen a reality show, Willam? All this cockiness early in the game will only lead to ruin! Jiggly Caliente (who earlier described herself as “New York City’s plus-sized Barbie”) takes a fall, but recovers beautifully to win the challenge. Jiggly is an early contender for “Most Hilarious.” On Sharon Needles, who is legitimately creepy-looking: “I feel like I need to wear the rosary when I’m talking to her.”
Later, Ru takes the queens to an abandoned hotel that is maybe in the desert to announce that their runway challenge is “post-apocalyptic couture.” But because no self-respecting drag queen would dream of making an outfit from dead cockroaches and rotting plywood, former contestants show up as “drag queen zombies” to provide material. Pandora Boxx was there! If only she’d been allowed to do her Carol Channing impression. While the contestants are crafting, we learn many things. Princess, for example, has a Smurf tattoo. Everybody hates Sharon Needles, except for Princess, who says, “You’re exactly the type of guy that I go for. Like that whole like, meth look.” Sharon does not find this weird at all and takes it as a compliment (I can dig it, I guess, but personally I prefer heroin chic). Latrice Royale, whose name Ru rightfully says sounds like a cocktail, has been to prison. Alisa Summers got a DUI a while ago and was arrested in drag. Kenya Michaels is a terrifyingly good dancer. Phi Phi O’Hara has an awesome out-of-drag look that involves hipster glasses and an asymmetrical haircut. And in perhaps what is the best exchange of the evening, we learn that Sharon Needles has a Tammy Faye Bakker tattoo: “I didn’t even know she was selling me Christianity. I thought she was selling me makeup.”
At the runway show, scary novelty contacts are the name of the game. Where do you even buy novelty contacts these days? Party City, maybe. Lashauwn lands in the top three for her insane, four-feet-high globe hairpiece, along with Princess, who claims that her terrible sailor outfit referenced Waterworld. Photographer/judge Mike Ruiz claims he immediately got that reference. Riiiiight. Sharon Needles, who DRIPPED FAKE BLOOD FROM HER MOUTH, wins the night with her “brown tube sock” zombie outfit that supposedly has something to do with Linda Hamilton. Kenya is one of the worst with her seemingly Kanye-inspired phoenix look, and Jiggly and Alisa are left to lip-sync for their lives to Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Jiggly, who appears to be doing actual choreography from the video (I don’t know how I could love Jiggly any more than I do right now), does the splits, leaving slow-moving Alisa in the dust. Ru decides that Alisa must sashay away, because duh—Jiggly did the splits. Sorry, Alisa, but it takes more than a “swimsuit with some titties on it” to make it in this competition. As one queen put it: “This is called Drag Race, not Drag Walk.” Until next week, remember Ru’s words of wisdom: if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love anybody else?